I saw the recently adapted screenplay of this movie about a month ago, and as that was a great movie, I finally got myself to see the original anime edition. Well... actually I saw the 2.0 version, which has entirely the same story as the first edition, but some of the animated scenes and characters have been redone graphically. The Blu-Ray disc I had borrowed contained both versions plus a bit of quite exciting bonus material. The adapted screenplay had a slightly different plot.
I am no expert on anime or manga, and to be honest do not have a lot of experience in that genre in general. The narrative style is very different than what most of us are used to from Hollywood. It seems to focus far more on setting a mood than on (forcefully) driving the action. The music also has a strong influence. As this movie is considered one of the cornerstones in the genre, it does all these things with great excellence.
Spoiler alert! This movie does not have a huge and spectacular ending where good conquers evil and everyone gets to live happily ever after. Instead it actually and properly intentionally does not leave you with a sense of feeling good, happy or hopeful for the future of humanity. You are left with a mind slightly cracked open by a brilliant hacker, and you need to fill that void with your own image of what the soul really is. Great stuff!